Restaurants & Bars 2

quick report on short London Visit

kirk wallace | Mar 29, 200201:02 PM

made it to london for 3 nights last weekend, so some quick notes (dinner except as noted otherwise) from a NYChound's perspective:
1- Providores (upstairs dining room) --the newest offering of the Sugar Club gang; fun lively, crowded, usually well meaning and competent service, perhaps a bit too much attitude from the Hostess, but the waiters made up for it; fun and decent wine list (hooray to New Zealand winemaker Kim Crawford for putting a screwtop on his fresh and clean dry riesling); food was good, starters better than mains, esp the Laksa and the kangeroo.

2- Nahm -- very nicely done room, good service (i was worried based on earlier posts here, but they seemed to have cleaned up their act) wine service a bit less knowledgeable than I would have expected given their michelin macaroon, but the list is pretty good --way too much expensive chardonnay/white burg for Thai food; question why you'd have any; but a handful of good german rieslings, but oddly no Austrian's eventhough one of the captains who was attempting to describe the wine list for many tables is Austrian; but sadly, the food was very variable, a few (1 or 2) dishes (especially a lovely fresh fish served a green curry and a crab, mushrooms and greens dish) had the complexity and flavor of truly good thai food (and here I can only compare to 3 or 4 places in Thailand, especially the Spice Market in Bangkok, and Windham Street Thai in Hong Kong); the rest of the dishes (and we order 3 starters and four mains in three courses, for 3 people) were mediocre to poor (as in my local neighborhood thai does as well or better) -- a sad almost tasteless, but perfectly fresh, pair of quail with a nice, if over sweet red curry sauce tasted as if the quail and sauce mad been just introduced as the plate was leaving the kitchen. very disappointing to the one of us who had been to Darley Street Thai a few times and loved it. (Oh yeah, and the total, without wine, was approx 80 pounds sterling per person, so I'd have to say very, very low value/$ ratio; wine added a mere 160 quid to the bill, but only 2 of us were drinking and drank nicely at very reasonable prices.)

3- lunch at the cafe/bar/light lunch place connected to Vinopolis; very fun bartenders --knoweldgeable and very off beat; simple decent chow, the roast beef sandwich was superior to the mushroom risotto, probably my mistake for ordering the risotto; amazing wine by the glass list and good young bottle selection; all fairly priced; i was very happy with my '97 selvapiano (sp?) chianti classico, even if it was wickedly young.

4 -- dinner at Smiths (top floor); wonderful; it was a clear night, the roof tops and the dome of St Paul's made for a great backdrop; i loved the slick, minimalist but not slipshod look of the room; very kind and knowledgeable service; excellent carpaccio and short horn sirloin; rabbit stew with white beans and chorizo (rabit in sort of a ballontine) was on the whole flavorful -- the beans and sausage very good; rabbit was blander than strickly necessary but tender.
short (except the bordeaux/cabernet part, which is medium length) but well chosen wine list.

5 -- (happy culmination) Lunch at Locanda Locatelli: everything you've read is true and more so; a bit stiff on the reception and the initial seating, but from thereon everything was close to perfect; great food, carefull but not overbearing service; excellent winelist (given how new the restaurant is); i know no italian rest. in NY that would even come close; a few highlights: wildboar cured ham--excquite rosy dense but meltingly tender, richer wilder flavor than proscuitto; ox tongue with salsa verde, delicate with a slight earthiness; the garlic and the parsely of the salsa perfeclty playing against the richness of the meat (and i think of myself as not liking tongue); lemon cream filled torteloni in a pork ragu -- maybe the best of the dishes we had; i can't do it justice; made my tortelini filled with botarga nestled in a chickpea puree/soup seem just very good, when that dish by itself would have been a real standout --the play of the salty, vague fish taste of the bottarga against the homey rich taste of the chickpea soup and its thick consistency was really good, just not up to the delights offered by those perfect packages of lemon cream cutting and marrying with the clean rish flavors of the simple pork sausage ragu. (the main courses (involtini of pork loin and 1 other) and desert were also excellent, but this was supposed to be quick post.
('97 barolo cannubi from E. Pira, excellent and with decanting and a few minutes to open, beautiful with meal.)

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